GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons shot an elephant raiding a farmer's field in Zimbabwe, and animal rights groups seized the PR opportunity. Image: CC Rob Inh00d/Flickr

Web hosting company GoDaddy.com has been successful promoting its brand by using controversy. When GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons shot and killed an African elephant on video and posted the footage online, the buzz wasn’t positive. Animal rights groups were horrified, and web hosting competitors are using the elephant killing video in an attempt to steal GoDaddy customers.

Serving elephant for breakfast

The GoDaddy elephant killing video making the rounds on the Internet shows Parsons explaining how rogue elephants have been trampling a sorghum field. In another scene later that night, two bull elephants are spotted in the field. Parsons shoots one in the head and the other flees. He poses triumphantly atop the slain pachyderm. In a scene the next morning, villagers wearing GoDaddy hats hack up the carcass for food to the tune of AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells.” The animal rights group PETA jumped in, calling Parsons “the scummiest CEO of the year.” A petition telling Parsons that “Real Men Don’t Kill Elephants” appeared on Change.org. GoDaddy rival NameCheap.com sought to profit from the elephant’s demise with a special deal for transferring from GoDaddy that includes a donation to SaveTheElephants.com.

Elephants in Zimbabwe

Parsons said the protesters have the wrong idea. He told the New York Daily News that “I think everyone’s heart is in the right place, but … if they had an animal destroying their livelihood and they were going to starve to death … they’d look at it differently. And that’s the situation in Zimbabwe.” Zimbabwe is estimated to have about 100,000 elephants – more than the impoverished country’s national parks can sustainably support. The elephant population in Zimbabwe is projected to grow about 5 percent a year. After more than three decades of rule by kleptocrat Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s economy is in shambles and many people are starving.

Helpful hints to keep elephants away

If Parson’s wanted to keep elephants out of the farmer’s field, Treehugger offers a few alternatives to killing them. But the suggestions are rather comical, considering the context of an impoverished nation such as Zimbabwe. Elephants avoid bees, and researchers at the University of Oxford discovered that a fence equipped with motion activated speakers that mimic the sound of an angry hive kept the elephants away. If access to motion-activated fence speakers is a problem on a primitive African farm, Treehugger suggests firing ping pong balls filled with chili powder from a special gun that can hit an elephant from 50 yards. But when all else fails, apparently nothing works better than a trophy-hunting dot-com CEO with an elephant gun.

Bob Parsons’ elephant killing video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdRhzwWW0uQ

Sources

New York Daily News: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2011/03/31/2011-03-31_godaddy_ceo_bob_parsons_under_fire_for_killing_elephant_on_video_critics_cry_snu.html

Mashable: http://mashable.com/2011/03/31/godaddy-ceo-elephant/

Treehugger: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/03/godaddy-ceo-hunts-and-kills-elephant-posts-video-online.php#ch04

The Zimbabwean: http://www.thezimbabwean.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=16504&Itemid=105

 

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